Saturday, March 14, 2015

Harrogate, TN.—Korval McElroy finished with 21 points and Lashawn Alexander poured in 16 as the Crusaders fell to red hot Lincoln Memorial University 95-62 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Railsplitters shot a blistering 57 percent from the field during Saturday's NCAA opening round while the Crusaders finished 23 of 55 from the field for a 41 percent total. The Railsplitters had four players in double figures led by Keenan Peterson who led all players with 23 points.

The leading scorer for both North Greenville and Lincoln Memorial were both held under 10 points as Spencer Reaves scored just six for NGU while Luquon Choice finished the day with just seven. Micah parker scored eight points for NGU while Phillip Brown had five.

The Railsplitters jumped ahead five points with 16:51 left in the opening half and extended their lead to 14 with six minutes left before halftime. McElroy scored 10 points for the Crusaders in the final 5:57 of the period to keep North Greenville within in striking distance. The Crusaders closed the half on a 5-0 run however to cut the lead to nine at intermission.

The Railsplitters opened the second half hitting their first four shots, a small foreshadowing of the second half narrative. Lincoln Memorial exploded out of the gates in the second period, running out to a 23 point lead just five minutes in. The Railsplitters were 3-4 from three point range while NGU struggled, shooting just 4 of 8 from the field to open the half.

Lashawn Alexander cut the lead down to 15 with 13:34 left capping an 8-3 run, seemingly gaining the Crusaders some momentum as the Railsplitters called a timeout to regroup. North Greenville would lack answers down the stretch of the final 13 minutes of play, while LMU had plenty to say.

The Railsplitters would shoot a lights out 73 percent from three point range in half two, while going 58 percent overall from the field. LMU was 16 of 23 from deep. NGU struggled in the large 5,000-seat arena, shooting 34 percent in the second half and just 10 percent from three point distance, well under the team's season average.

The Crusaders would go scoreless for nearly five minutes after cutting the lead to 15 as LMU shot its way to a 74-45 advantage with 8:06 left. The advantage for the Railsplitters would hover around 30 points the rest of the night. NGU would score 17 points in the final eight minutes of play but the Railsplitters answered with points of their own, squashing any attempt of NGU to gain some momentum for a comeback.

North Greenville finished the season 22-10 after Saturday's lost, stamping the season with the team's first Conference Carolinas Championship a week ago. The Crusaders finished with a 12-8 mark in conference play.